Could LSU basketball play Alabama again in NCAA Tournament? How Tigers can make it happen
Imagine another LSU-Alabama rematch in the NCAA Tournament.
It could happen if the No. 8 seed Tigers (18-9) and No. 2 seed Crimson Tide (24-6) each win three games to reach the East Region championship game on March 29 or 30 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Alabama edged LSU, 80-79, Sunday in a classic SEC Tournament championship game for its third win over the Tigers this season.
"We owe them," LSU point guard Javonte Smart said. "We really wanted that win. Felt like we owed it to them after what they did to us the last couple of times (105-75 and 78-60 regular season losses). A lot of guys are down because that's a tough loss to take. But I think we'll go far in the Big Dance."
LSU basketball vs. St. Bonaventure in NCAA Tournament:My prediction
First, LSU must get past No. 9 seed St. Bonaventure (16-4) on Saturday (12:45 p.m., TNT) at Assembly Hall on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington.The university is allowing only 500 fans of the arena's 17,222 capacity.
If LSU wins the opener, it will play No. 1 seed Michigan (20-4) on Monday if the Wolverines win on Saturday against either Mount St. Mary's (12-10) or Texas Southern (16-8). Those two play on Thursday in a First Four game.
That second round winner advances to play the winner from the pairings of No. 4 Florida State (16-6) and No. 13 North Carolina-Greensboro, and No. 12 Georgetown (13-12) and No. 5 Colorado (22-8). Alabama opens versus No. 15 Iona (12-5).
LSU basketball seeding:A No. 8, really?
LSU coach Will Wade said his team deserved a better seed after finishing third in the SEC and reaching the tournament final. The No. 8-No. 9 winner plays a No. 1 seed, barring an upset by a No. 16. That has happened once in NCAA Tournament history, with Maryland-Baltimore County beating No. 1 seed Virginia, 74-54 in 2018.
But the Tigers could be paired with a limping No. 1 seed, as Michigan senior forward Isaiah Livers may be lost for the season with a stress fracture in his right foot. He averages 13.7 points and 6.1 rebounds a game.
"I thought we'd get a little bit better seed," Wade said. "But excited to be in the tournament. We've finally started playing closer to our potential as a team. This is the team I expected to have most of the season. I guess, better late than never."
LSU basketball-Alabama So Close: Tigers nearly pulled a N.C. State 1983
LSU, which took a bus from the tournament in Nashville to Indianapolis on Monday, was scheduled for COVID-19 testing and game film study before practice on Wednesday.
"We've got to recover for the big show. I thought we left it all out there on the court against Alabama," Wade said. "That was the first time we were able to move the ball and score against them. Their defense is elite."
LSU's Aundre Hyatt and Darius Days missed short, buzzer shotsthat could have won it.
"It was one of those games, growing up as a kid, you live for," Smart said.
It featured jawing before, during and after, and could again.
"Between us and Bama, it's always a heated environment," Smart said. "That type of game you need in a championship game."
At the East Region final?